Characterisation in Mulk Raj Anand’s Novel “Untouchable”

Characterisation means the creation of imaginary persons so that they seem life-like. Through characterisation an author gives life and meaning to his characters. All characters of Mulk Raj Anand’s novels are remarkable for intimate touches of fidelity to life and intense realism. He has written about the suffering and tragedy of the downtrodden and the poor whom he has actually seen and known in his childhood and youth.

Through untouchable Anand presents his long preserved feeling of protest against Indian caste system. His method of protest was quite different from that of others. Instead of writing a tract against untouchability as suggested to him by Mahatma Ghandhi, he wrote a novel. Thus, at once, he became more human and could reproduce contrary emotions and shade of feelings through his characters.

Anand shows the pain, and the agony of untouchables and their supression by upper caste people. Bakha is portrayed as strong, hard working, dedicated towards his work and inspired by Britishers, therefore he is dressed up in their costume. The whole novel evolves a single day’s event in Bakha’s life. He is humiliated by the people of upper caste at almost every step for being an untouchable. Through him also Anand presents, how the feeling of untouchability is deep rooted in their soul that he is prevented by an imaginary wall from taking revenge for the insult of his sister Sohini.

The character Pandit Kalinath shows that how the people of upper caste, use religion for their own sectarian benefit and supressing the people of lower caste. Lakha‘s character presented as of a person who considers untouchability as the part of his life and thinks that all the people of upper caste are not bad; some of them are kind-hearted also. Bakha gets more relief and support from Charat Singh who not only appreciates his work but also treats him humanly and inspire him too.

Mulk Raj Anand sees that the novel develops along the character in action with his strict fidelity to the facts of life and the variety of the social morals. This makes the novel at once a significant social document as well as a symbolic projection of the whole saga of human suffering. Bakha is put to a complex realities of social forces, and the incidents in which he finds himself unwittingly implicated, are keyed up to bring out the pain in the life of the protagonist. Anand maintains a steady distance and uses every significant event in the service of art to caste more life light on the character and the incident.

In the novel, Anand keenly describes the nature of untouchable’s father, mother, brother, sister and other relatives because he had observed the lives of the untouchables from close quarters. He depicts the alienation in these relations due to the social, cultural and racial aspects. Anand narrates the ridiculous situations of the Dalit and their plight. He also tries to focus on the disqualifications of the Dalit community as they have to depend on the mercy of the higher caste people for food and shelter.

Thus, Mulk Raj Anand poses problems of social inequality in his novel Untouchable at large and also attempts to seek resolutions to the social conflicts. The resolutions that he proposes are the empowerment of the weak and the development of social consciousness and awareness for social growth.


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